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Make Use Of Your Student's Sense Of Humor

Make Use Of Your Student's Sense Of Humor

You can make use of the student's sense of humor to spur their interest and advancement at the piano. Once a boisterous boy made up comic names for the notes C, D, and E. He called them WALLACE, PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY TIME, and MISTER THREE-A-RINO. You can see that he was in a good mood, for he trusted enough to give a comic answer and risk the teacher’s scorn. Except that I don’t do scorn.


Always Start With Piano Games

I decided on a note naming game. I play a key and he has to give me descriptive information about it (white, black, group of two, group of three, location, name, etc.) Secretly, I'm forcing him to come up with a verbal explanation. He has to mentally visualize the location on the keyboard. Usually I become Professor Dumbrowsky (obvious apologies to the Dumbrowsky’s of Portland) and start a game-show atmosphere. I began to probe his knowledge of chords. His interest remained high, and we continued to study chords, listening to them, finding them, and playing with them.

Note Naming Game

Finally we came back to the names of notes, which he now knew much better. This was because our chord games had helped him identify the roots of those chords (the root is the key furthest to the left.) Then as he named the notes, I contradicted and said, “No, Joe, that one is named Wallace.” The child of course was delighted that I adopted his names, but now insisted on the correct names.

Enter The Child's Space

The lesson? You’ll have a better piano lesson if you can find a way to enter the child’s mindset, and then work within it. Children run to the door for my lessons because they are certain that I am warm, friendly, and never pressure them very far beyond their comfort zone. The result of such treatment is a willing collaborator and partner in the search for fun at the piano.

POSTSCRIPT: A month later, this same kid will only read music, that is all he wants to do. He is patient as long as I give him something harder to read!

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